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Canon Ixus 230 HS review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £210
inc VAT

With superb photos and videos, fast performance, an 8x zoom and a stylish ultra-compact design, this little camera is pretty much perfect


1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 8.0x zoom (28-224mm equivalent), 140g

Canon’s Ixus range of stylish cameras has been firing on all cylinders this year, and it has really hit its stride with the 230 HS.

Expert Reviews is proud to bring you this Canon Ixus 230 HS review from Short Sharp Reviews – click through to YouTube for a 1080p HD version

A svelte, luxurious design in a choice of six colours is to be expected, and its gently contoured metal shell (measuring 22mm at its thickest point) slips easily into small pockets. We didn’t expect to find an 8x zoom lens in such a slim camera, though. The 28-224mm range doesn’t match the 24mm wide-angle capability of the Canon Ixus 220 HS but its telephoto reach is far greater. That’s enough to take a close-up portrait from across the room, or capture a distant subject with almost four times the resolution of the Ixus 220 HS’s 24-120mm lens.

Canon Ixus 230 HS

Canon seems to be struggling to make the best use of the limited space on the back of its Ixus cameras. This time it has plumped for a spacious 3in screen with a sharp 461,000-pixel resolution, but rather than squeeze all the buttons in beside it, the menu button and mode switch have been nudged around to the right end of the camera. It’s an unorthodox approach that we didn’t immediately warm to, but it quickly became second nature to use. As with the Ixus 220 HS, the buttons sit flush with the camera body so those with big thumbs might struggle with the navigation pad. Otherwise, though, the buttons and Canon’s tried-and-tested menu system provide quick access to key settings, and there’s a strong collection of scene presets and digital effects on top of the more conventional photographic controls.

Canon Ixus 230 HS rear

Autofocus speed is good rather than great, leading to a 2.1-second wait between switching on and taking a photo, and 2.2 seconds between subsequent shots. Continuous mode is excellent, though, at 2.5fps in our controlled test and 3.6fps in brighter conditions. With a fast SDHC card, it kept this performance going until the card was full.

The video mode’s 1080p resolution, AVC codec and high 33Mbit/s bit rate deliver crisp details that don’t break up in fast-moving scenes. The only drawback is that clips are limited to 10 minutes, so you might still need a dedicated camcorder in some situations. The elapsed time is shown but a countdown to show the remaining time would be more useful. Autofocus was a little slow to update while recording and the focus and zoom motors were picked up by the microphone in quiet scenes, but it’s preferable to cameras that can’t update their autofocus and zoom at all while recording.

12-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensors appear to be standard issue across Canon’s recent PowerShot and Ixus cameras, and it’s easy to see why. Details in bright conditions were crisp and smooth, with barely any evidence of digital sharpening or noise reduction. Photos became a little soft in low light as noise reduction was applied more heavily, but they still looked attractive at the top ISO 1600 sensitivity, allowing us to use the full telephoto zoom extension indoors without resorting to the flash.

Canon Ixus 230 HS sample 3
There’s a little noise by ISO 400, and noise reduction results in a loss of fine detail in the texture of the horse’s hair, but there’s none of the syrupy smearing that we’re used to seeing from compact cameras

The lens pulled its weight, delivering sharp focus throughout its zoom range and less chromatic aberrations than we’ve seen from other recent Canon cameras. Automatic settings were virtually impossible to fault, with balanced exposures, sumptuous colours and expertly chosen settings to minimise the risk of camera shake while maintaining the highest image quality.

Canon Ixus 230 HS sample 1
The 1cm macro mode reveals some surprising details in this daisy head

Be careful not to confuse the Ixus 230 HS with the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. Bargain hunters should stick with the Canon Ixus 115 HS, which costs around £140 and uses the same sensor and processor to deliver equally impressive photos. However, the Ixus 230 HS’s sharper screen, more capable video mode (with functioning zoom and autofocus), faster performance and – most significantly – its bigger zoom make it well worth the extra cost. This is the best point-and-shoot camera we’ve ever seen, the price is right and we’re sure it’s going to be hugely popular.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 461,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 8.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-224mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 24fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 210 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable
Weight 140g
Size 57x95x22mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £210

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3 (wide), f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, red, green, blue, skin tone, i-Contrast
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes centre, multi/face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer